You probably suspect when you roam a grocery store that three-fourths of the products are nutritionally worthless. But the last place you’d expect to confirm your hunch is with the grocer stocking all the chips, dips, and sugary cereals.
Well, a Northeast food chain, Hannaford Brothers, has done just that. It assembled a panel of nutrition experts and had it assess its 27,000 products, with the idea of awarding one to three stars to each as “good, better, best” in nutritional value. Lo and behold, 77% of the items received NO STARS.
Both CNN and The New York Times have done reports on the Hannaford system, which is believed to be the first of its type anywhere. The Times reports, for example, that items corporate producers promote as healthy, like V8 vegetable juice, Nature Valley Healthy Heart granola bars, Campbell’s Healthy Request tomato soup, and Health Choice meals, are tabbed as nearly worthless—given no stars—by Hannaford because of excessive sodium.
Not surprisingly, the corporate producers of the foods hyped as nutritious and now exposed as worthless aren’t pleased. They are quoted as questioning whether Hannaford should be acting as nutritional arbiter. I wonder who’s going to win this battle. If Hannaford doesn’t get intimidated, it could win, since retailers hold the balance of power in most supplier-retailer relationships. Just look at Wal-Mart. Producers need the distributors more than the other way around.
In any event, imagine a grocery store filled with nutritious products. A pretty far-fetched fantasy.